The delicate purple flowers nestled amongst lush heart shaped leaves are among the first wild flowers to bloom in springtime.
Viola odorata, sweet violet, wild violet of the Violaceae plant family are an ancient and valuable medicine.
‘It is a fine pleasing plant of Venus, of a mild nature and in no way hurtful. All the Violets are cold and moist, while they are fresh and green, and are used to cool any heat or distemperature of the body, either inwardly or outwardly, as the inflammation in the eyes, to drink the decoction of the leaves and flowers made with water or wine, or to apply them poultice wise to the grieved places; it likewise easeth pains in the head caused through want of sleep, or any pains arising of heat if applied in the same manner or with oil of Roses.
The older writers had great faith in Syrup of Violets: ague, epilepsy, inflammation of the eyes, sleeplessness, pleurisy, jaundice and quinsy are only a few of the ailments for which it was held potent. Gerard says: ‘It has power to ease inflammation, roughness of the throat and comforteth the heart, assuageth the pains of the head and causeth sleep.
From Mrs Grieve A Modern Herbal:
‘Of late years, preparations of fresh Violet leaves have been used both internally and externally in the treatment of cancer, and though the British Pharmacopoeia does not uphold the treatment, it specifies how they are employed.
From other sources it is stated that Violet leaves have been used with benefit to allay the pain in cancerous growths, especially in the throat, which no other treatment relieved, and several reputed cures have been recorded. ‘
The chemical constituents include:
- antiseptic glucosides, including Viola -quercitin
- salicylic acid
- Violine ( alkaloid)
In my practice ~ Sweet violet invariably find their way into prescriptions for eczmea and acne. It combines well in a tea with red clover and chamomile for eczema, especially for children and can be used topically with comfrey leaf and chickweed in a lotion.
- Other actions include anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, slight laxative (leaves) diuretic and expectorant.
- There is a long history of use as a cough remedy: indicated in bronchitis, pleurisy and upper respiratory cattarh.
- For urinary tract infections – could combine with marshmallow leaf and couch grass
- Make a mouthwash or gargle for sore throats or inflamed gums
- The roots, leaves and seeds are emetic in large doses so use with care, the leaves are a mild laxative.